Uses of Blogs – Chapters 2 and 3 Commentary

I have decided to focus on chapters two (Axel Bruns) and three (Jane B. Singer) from our text for this weeks response and notes. I will begin with summarization and commentary on chapter two, then follow-up with chapter three, and interweave the two articles as a grand finale.

Chapter two focuses on the practice of news blogging. It is a wonderful article that really makes you question the content and material of your own blog. I could not help but ask myself if I should, at least in some degree, be contributing to the news blogging industry by providing commentary or even original reporting. I am a busy young man, however, and do not have the time, money and resources to do any original reporting. On the other hand, I feel as if the work we will complete in this class could be considered commentary, albeit not “news” commentary, but educated, time-consuming material on various topics and issues.

As Bruns points out, the uses of blogs vary, but news blogging is the most-visible among them. While I do not seek out “blogs” for my news, I do get a lot of it from MSN or Yahoo, which in actuality are not that different from independent blogs–only difference being is that they have a large staff and exponential resources. But their main goal of information, education, and entertainment are the same. I still go to the good old fashioned printed newspaper for my news–they need our support, badly.

While there are very few blogs that are exclusively devote to news blogging, many are used as personal online “diaries” for social interaction but do cover the news from time-to-time. J.D. Lasica calls this “random acts of journalism.” Bruns points out that only a few of us will actually follow a specific blog on a daily basis like we would for newspapers or evening news. Instead, we are finding news through links, RSS and information searches. Online reading tends to be random indeed.

Bruns makes a wonderful point early in his article,

…it is not the individual blog entry that is of foremost importance, but the (ideally interlinked) collection of blog entries on a shared topic, across the blogging world.

Well said, Mr. Bruns. This is the basic ideal of news blogging–that collectively we can contribute to a more informed world. Now, we all know journalists view this type of behavior in a different light. Here is a good PBS article I found about the blurring and mixture of journalism and blogging. It was written in 2008, but is still prevalent. In the article Glaser writes,

For years, traditional journalists scoffed at bloggers as pajama-wearing screamers, while bloggers have pointed to MSM (mainstream media) as secretly biased and obsolete.

Funny.

Bruns goes on to talk about the importance of bloggers on unfolding world events. Here is what he has to say:

“…when big news breaks, it’s tough to beat a Weblog”–while the mainstream news channels and publishers are still in the process of scrambling their camera teams, re-arranging their Websites, or establishing lines of communication to their journalists in the field, in such major events bloggers are usually already…posting live updates to their sites.

This is quite true, especially with modern digital and wireless technology. Phone cameras and images can be posted to blogs in the blink of an eye. But this does require you to be at the scene, so this can be very rare.

I will touch briefly on gatewatching before moving on to chapter three as I am running out of time. The journalist’s role has shifted from watchdog to “guidedog.” Gatekeeping has become “gatewatching” Instead of selecting what news will or will not be seen, journalists now simply watch what is passing through the gates. They provide suggestions to what they believe is most relevant news to their audience. This dramatically reduces the power of the journalistic profession in the public’s eye.

Chapter three focuses on complements, contradictions, and challenges of journalists and news bloggers. This is a fantastic chapter that talks about the differences between journalists and news bloggers ways to seeking and reporting the truth. As well as the coexistence of the two.

The chapter starts with a question: are bloggers journalists? Here is what Singer says:

Journalists’ immediate answer is: No way. Bloggers’ immediate answer is: No thanks.

A simple, but perfect answer from Singer. She also states an obvious: the majority of blogs are not journalistic because they provide no public service. Most bloggers think it is “a fun, easy way to create a personal journal for their own enjoyment,” Singer reiterates. “But some bloggers clearly have something grander in mind.” They cover politics, government, war, media, social issues, etc. And many people DO turn to them, without a doubt.

News bloggers and journalists fill overlapping but different niches, although they do annoy each other on occasion. Sanger explains why they offer mutual benefits, which I will describe a little later. They do, however, take very different approaches to truth. Jay Rosen said that journalism itself is over. That is has lost great people, credibility, objectivity. Do you agree? Do I agree? I am not sure. I hope not, but I am afraid that journalism as we know it is over. It is transferring online, into what I called “j-blogging”–which in actuality is simply journalists who ALSO blog.

Journalists search for truth is much more robotic and estimable as they attempt to mirror the day’s events. They believe truth stems for a set of enlightenment ideas, which includes that people are rational and reality is verifiable. They believe truth can be seen or heard. They depend on reliable sources. In fact,

Journalistic gatekeeping is no longer a matter of determining which items are to be allowed to circulate; it is a matter of certifying that among the millions of freely circulating items, some subset has been independently verified as trustworthy.

Bloggers, on the other hand, have a different view. Universally they believe everyone holds their own version of the truth. These views are often subjective, multi-faceted. They focus on shared knowledge and connections–an “electronically enable marketplace of ideas.” I like the sound of that. It is open forum at its best; revised, extended, refuted; the more the merrier; the whole knows more. All those things. It does not work flawlessly, obviously, but these ambitions are admirable.

News bloggers need journalists, obviously, where else would they get their information? Bloggers need journalists to give them publicity as journalists often write about blogs and quote from them (according to our text). It is no surprise that the general public is displeased with mainstream media, and bloggers have taken advantage of journalism’s biased, made up, and untrustworthy stories. However, journalists do have the credibility, writing, knowledge, valuable tools, and a commitment to excellence that bloggers simply do not.

News blogging does “offer thousands of extra pairs of ears to the ground,” according to Singer. She believes they benefit from each other’s presence and practice–that they are complementary and can one day have a peaceful coexistence. She also believes that this new wave of news blogging should bring about some journalistic soul-searching. That this will bring about a reaffirmation of their commitment.

The differences between the two is, as I stated in my chapter two summary, fuzzier than ever before. These two chapters focus highly on journalism. The dying art, the similarities to news blogging, how news blogging has slowly become almost as reliable in some ways. Bruns talked about gatewatching, news commentary, and deliberative journalism which segued into Singer’s chapter on the interdependence, differences, similarities, and challenges of journalists and bloggers.

I will discussion Bruns amd Jacobs in my next post so I thought I would share a link to Singer’s biography. She is currently an associate professor at the University of Missouri. I found her article particularly helpful in my understanding of the clash between journalism and news blogging.

Jane B. Singer (Courtesy of Missouri School of Journalism)

Jane B. Singer (Courtesy of Missouri School of Journalism)

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5 responses to “Uses of Blogs – Chapters 2 and 3 Commentary

  1. I like reading your posts. They are so full of info. It’s like, i’ll take a stab at what we the group are lookong at and then i’ll see what you thought about it and I learn so much, very cool.

  2. Pingback: Week 3: Uses of Blogs, Digital Artifacts and more. | Jack in the Box·

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